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Bring Your Product to Life with Personality
Clad in a pink nightgown, seven-year-old Jessica
scans the cereal boxes lined up on top of the refrigerator.
Her eyes light up as she reaches the brown box at the end.
She leaps in the air and flaps her arms wildly.
"That's what I want!" she yells, "I'm cuckoo
for Cocoa Puffs!"
And she is cuckoo as she sloshes milk
over the small brown spheres in her cereal bowl. As I'm certain
the exorbitant sugar content cannot have reached her blood
yet, I know her behavior is the result of clever branding.
Although cereal has little to do with birds, Sonny the Cuckoo
Bird has been selling breakfast cereal on television commercials
since the early 1960s. And he is quite an effective salesman.
Not only is the cereal a core brand for General Mills, but
the term "Cocoa Puff" has earned itself a significant cultural
Strange as it may sound, when packaged products
take on a personality that consumers can relate to, sales
increase. Products come to life when a mascot or animated
figure gives the product a face—not just a brand—to trust.
This is why children beg a breakfast of Cocoa Puffs, despite
its low nutritional content. But certainly naive children
are not the exclusive targets of branding.
When it comes to choosing cleaning products,
how many of us picture grim-faced scrub brushes scouring our
tubs? Can a competing brand perform as well? We think not,
as we drop a bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles into our shopping
basket. Mr. Clean, with his sparkling bald head and sailor's
physique, has been mopping floors across the globe since the
50s. A brand's personality can offer the single most important
reason why one brand is chosen over another. Personality gives
the consumer something to relate to that can be more vivid
than the perceived positioning of the brand. Furthermore,
a strong identifiable personality makes it easier for customers
and prospects to understand what the marketer has to offer.
This is why Ronald McDonald sells more hamburgers,
why the Kool-Aid Man leads in punch sales, and why the Jolly
Green Giant dwarfs his competition. This is why we picture
companionable lizards when considering which car insurance
to buy. When building brand it is well worth the while to
assign a mascot to carry the image of the brand.
When considering mascots, it is critical that
you convey an image that will appeal to your target audience
without alienating or offending part of the population. This
was the unfortunate situation that Aunt Jemima found herself
in. Aunt Jemima began selling pancake mix and syrups in the
late 1800s, when her kerchiefed hair and apron was the stereotypical
garb of a black "Mammy." Indeed, Aunt Jemima was marketed
as a slave woman servicing her white family. Plagued with
a tarnished image, the company has tried to bring their spokeswoman
up-to-date with a younger, more attractive African-American
woman wearing a modern hairstyle and pearls. Still, the term
"Aunt Jemima" has come to be a somewhat disparaging term.
("Uncle Ben" of Uncle Ben's Rice has a similar history.)
When choosing an appropriate mascot for your
brand, first identify what you are trying to achieve. Who
will conceivably buy your product or services? What kind of
character would appeal to that audience? Is this a spokesperson
that will stand the test of time? In what way will the personality
reach out to the consumer and communicate the strengths of
your product or service? Is this an image you desire? When
you've found the right fit, proceed with care—like reputation,
image is very difficult to change once it is established.
You will know you've found the winning spokesperson when the
spark brings your product to life.
About the Author:
Francesca Black is an artist and works on content and
designs for Logo Search http://www.logo-search.com
and is a photographer for Photo Wizard http://www.photo-wizard.net